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One of the many ways a Chromebook differs from a Windows laptop is that you can't pin or create shortcuts to files on the desktop. Instead, if you want to access an important file quickly on ChromeOS, you'll have to pin that file to what's known as the quick files area in the system tray — or, as we call it, the shelf.

Quick files used to be called "tote" in earlier versions of ChromeOS. The name might have changed, but it's still a dedicated hub in the bottom right corner of your screen where you can click to open frequently accessed files without opening the Files app itself. And this is the case whether you use a Chromebook or a great ChromeOS tablet. Here's how you can get started with it.

How to quick access files on a Chromebook

The journey to quickly accessing files on a Chromebook begins in the Files app. From here, you'll want to navigate to where the files you want to pin are listed. Then, follow the steps below.

  1. Right-click on the file you want to add to quick access in the Files app.
  2. Choose the Pin to quick files option.
    Quick access files in ChromeOS
  3. From now on, simply click on the circular icon in your ChromeOS dock next to the date in the bottom right to access the file. It'll show a preview, too.
  4. You'll be able to click the file from here to open it.
  5. To unpin the file, click on the quick files area, and click the black pin icon to remove it.
    The quick files section in ChromeOS
  6. You also can unpin by going back to the Files app and locating the file as you did before. Right-click it, and choose Unpin from quick files.

As you can see, pinning files in ChromeOS is relatively easy. I've found the feature very helpful when I have an important PDF or the scan or a receipt that I want to quickly access without having to sort through a long list of documents in the Files apps. It's yet another useful ChromeOS feature, just like virtual desktops, or even the task manager, that makes this one of our favorite operating systems.